Three months after Fox 31 in Denver aired a segment alleging CSU
sold horses for meat in Europe, the controversy continues.
On Nov. 14, CSU held an auction for 81 horses that were no
longer needed at the university, as per state law requirements.
Approximately 300 people attended the auction, and all 81 horses
were sold at an average of $600 each.
On Nov. 25, 11 days later, Fox 31’s Tom Martino reported that
some of the auction’s horses had been sold indirectly to
slaughterhouses, which then sent the meat to Europe.
CSU has faced the claim that slaughterhouse providers were
buying the auction’s horses.
Martino reported that “killers,” a term described by him as “a
slang given to buyers who turn around and sell horses directly to
slaughterhouses in Texas,” attended the auction and purchased 30
Will French, a freshman equine science major who attended the
auction, said actual “killers” were not at the auction, but there
were horse traders who purchase horses and sometimes resell them to
slaughterhouses, as well as to dude ranches and other safe
“These buyers don’t buy horses just for slaughter, but also for
sale to others who would buy the horses for riding animals,
breeding purposes or wherever else the price may merit. These horse
traders, if possible, will not sell to slaughterhouses, because
they can sell the horses for more money to people than if they sell
to slaughterhouses,” French said.
Some organizations believe CSU’s auctioning practices need to
One such organization is the Friends of Horses Rescue and
Adoption, an organization that places horses in adoptive homes.
Bill Stiffler, the organization’s executive director, said his
organization also tries to purchase horses from auctions like CSU’s
and adopt them to good, safe homes.
Stiffler said that he does not blame anyone for horses being
sold to “killers.” He understands that Colorado law requires CSU to
auction off state assets, but he thinks other options should be
“State assets have to be sold at auction, but CSU is not
maximizing the value of those assets,” he said. “I think the way
they disperse state’s assets needs to be reevaluated.”
Stiffler has since begun negotiations with CSU, state officials
and other organizations to try to find other ways of dispersing
“CSU is working with us at this stage to resolve and re-look at
the way they disperse their horses,” he said. “In my opinion, CSU
at this time is making a concerned effort to reevaluate what
One option Stiffler believes CSU can use to avoid further
controversy is notifying former horse owners to see if they want
the horses back.
Jason Bruemmer, an auction coordinator and an associate
professor of animal sciences, said prior owners of donated horses
either do not want them back or do not have any room to house
“We contact the old owners to see if they want them, but very
few said they wanted them back,” he said. “Very few in the last
auction were donated.”
Bruemmer said CSU tries to avoid putting horses in the wrong
hands, and the university is exploring other options.
“The biggest concern is to sell them legally. Horses are still
livestock, but we try not to take them to the local sale barn,” he
said. “We made every effort to do the right thing.”
He also said that in 2003, CSU began to lease horses instead of
buying them, but the public is not generally aware of this.
“Everybody is under the impression we buy them or they are
donated,” he said.
Bruemmer also said CSU holds auctions only when there are an
abundance of horses whose educational roles have been met.
Dell Rae Moellenberg, media relations specialist for the College
of Agricultural Sciences, said auctions are also held because of
the high cost of keeping so many horses. She said each horse costs
about $155 a month to feed, which is money some taxpayers do not
want to spend.
Stiffler also said he thinks CSU doesn’t do enough to advertise
the auctions to the public.
“They only send out notices to killer buyers,” he said. “They
are not doing a good job to market the auctions. They only run a
classified once every two years.”
Bruemmer said CSU did everything it could to notify people of
Moellenberg said CSU purchased advertising, including television
and radio spots, classified ads, created Web pages on CSU’s site,
sent e-mails, posted flyers and issued press releases to mainstream
media, horse magazines and other organizations.
David Batzer, a senior equine science major, said it was hard
not to see advertising for the auction.
“It was hard to miss it as a student. It was all over the equine
science page, front and center, and out at the Equine Center,” he
said. “They tried to get word out for sure.”
Caleb Walker, also a senior equine science major, said that some
students might be discouraged from attending the equine science
program because of the Fox news report.
“I would think uneducated people that saw that might be
dissuaded,” he said. “It really is a great program.”
Walker added that CSU is one of few institutions to offer an
equine science degree.
Another equine science student, freshman Juli Williams, said she
was very upset with the whole ordeal.
“I know myself and my best friend felt degraded by Fox News,”
she said. “We were looked down on; it was really degrading.”
Williams also said she is afraid the program’s image might be
tarnished and other students might turn away from the program
“I have run into people thinking about coming up here, but then
their parents are a little discouraged about them coming,” she
Williams said that despite all of the issues surrounding the
program, she still loves it.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “I love the fact we have the
opportunity to ride and grow.”